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Injuries leave Cowboys looking at backup OLB options

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With starting outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware ailing, and backup Victor Butler slowed by a groin strain, the Cowboys are developing contingency plans.

According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, the Cowboys worked out veteran Matt Roth Wednesday, though they didn’t sign him immediately.

The 30-year-old Roth had 3.5 sacks for the Jaguars last year before he was placed on injured reserve with a concussion. He worked out with the Bengals last offseason but didn’t sign. He wasn’t in camp with a team this summer, but has some background with the Cowboys coaching staff.

He had 7.5 sacks in two seasons with the Browns, playing under current Cowboys coordinator Rob Ryan.

Neither Ware nor Butler practiced Wednesday, but both are expected to play in Sunday’s win-or-else game against the Redskins.

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Packers lose lineman Aaron Adams for the year with ACL/MCL

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The Packers are going to be in the market for more offensive line help.

According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, the Packers have lost tackle Aaron Adams to a torn ACL and MCL.

Adams, who spent last year on their practice squad, had a chance to make the team as a backup. But he blew out his knee on the second play from scrimmage Thursday night, and will be placed on injured reserve.

They’ll be without projected starting center J.C. Tretter for the first month of the season with a knee injury, so they’re short on depth at the moment.

That makes some degree of move likely, whether it’s a waiver claim, a trade or a signing.

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Derek Carr or Matt Schaub? Dennis Allen not ready to say

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Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr played well in the preseason finale on Thursday night. But did he play well enough to unseat Matt Schaub as the starter? Coach Dennis Allen isn’t saying.

Allen said today that Schaub was not at the facility because of “a personal issue,” and Allen doesn’t know whether Schaub’s sore elbow is feeling any better. As a result, Allen isn’t prepared to say whether Schaub will be ready to go for Week One.

“I think the biggest thing is I want to be able to check on Matt and see where Matt is health-wise,” Allen said. “Like I said, he was making some progress last week, threw on the side with the trainers. I feel like he’ll be ready to go, but I think we need to see how he’s doing Monday when he gets in here.”

So before Allen can say whether Schaub will start, Allen needs to see whether Schaub is healthy. And that won’t happen until Monday at the earliest.

But if preseason performance is any indication, Carr should start over Schaub regardless of Schaub’s health: Carr completed 66.7 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and one interception in the preseason, while Schaub completed just 51.1 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and one interception. (For that matter, based on the preseason, third-string quarterback Matt McGloin should move ahead of Schaub on the depth chart, too.) Allen acknowledged that he was happy with the way Carr played in the preseason finale.

“There’s a lot of things that factor into the decision making process, but I will say that I was very pleased with what I saw out of Derek Carr last night,” Allen said.

The quarterback play in Oakland hasn’t been pleasing very often in recent years. Carr has shown promise, and that might be enough to give him the Week One nod.

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Report: Bills sign long-snapper Sanborn to three-year extension

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The Bills have signed one of their core special teams players to a new contract.

The club announced Friday it had signed long-snapper Garrison Sanborn to a contract extension. According to Aaron Wilson of National Football Post, Sanborn received a three-year deal averaging $1.1 million per season. Sanborn is now under contract for the next four seasons, Wilson reported.

A Florida State product, the 29-year-old Sanborn has appeared in every game in the last five seasons for Buffalo. According to NFLPA data, Sanborn is slated to make $895,000 in salary in 2014.

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Rex Ryan would make the Clemson trip again

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A year ago, Jets coach Rex Ryan took some criticism when he left town on the day of final roster cuts to attend the Clemson-Georgia game and see his son, a walk-on receiver at Clemson. This year, Clemson again plays Georgia on the day that final roster cuts are due, and Ryan won’t be making the trip.

But that’s not because Ryan has any regrets. In fact, Ryan told reporters today that he would make the Clemson trip over again, and the only reason he’s not going to the game this year is that his son isn’t going to the game either. Seth Ryan is nursing a broken collarbone and isn’t traveling with his teammates to Georgia, but if he were playing, his dad would be there.

“I am not going to discuss my situation and things like that,” Rex Ryan said. “But, it’s safe to say if my son was playing in the game I probably would have been there again. But he, unfortunately, is not on the travel team right now. He is still injured, so I am not going to go watch.”

On this call, Ryan is right: A quick trip to see his son isn’t dereliction of duty, it’s the right thing to do.

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Eagles trying to trade receiver Damaris Johnson

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Some guys you know are going to be gone, so you can go ahead and cut them on Friday.

But if a team thinks a guy they don’t need might have value, you can bet they’re going to wait until the last minute.

According to Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com, the Eagles are trying to trade wide receiver Damaris Johnson.

The Eagles are deep enough at receiver they probably wouldn’t be able to/want to keep Johnson.

He’s undersized, but he’s also shown enough as a special teamer and a wideout that he might interest someone. He caught 19 passes for 256 yards for the Eagles last year, and might be worth the obligatory conditional late round pick to someone.

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Report: James Harrison not likely to sign with Cardinals

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A notable ex-Steeler doesn’t appear to be headed to Pittsburgh West.

Free agent outside linebacker James Harrison isn’t likely to sign with the Arizona Cardinals at this time, Harrison’s agent, Bill Parise, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Parise told Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic the two sides couldn’t reach agreement on a deal.

“Couldn’t make the numbers work,” Parise said, according to the Republic.

The 36-year-old Harrison appeared in 15 games (10 starts) for Cincinnati in 2013, notching 30 tackles. His best seasons came with the Steelers, for whom he was a five-time Pro Bowler.

Current Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was a Pittsburgh assistant for much of Harrison’s tenure with the club, and Arizona has been a landing spot for other ex-Steelers in recent years. But for now, Harrison won’t be added to that list.

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Redskins cut eight players

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The Redskins began cutting their way to 53 players on Friday by parting ways with eight members of the roster.

That group includes cornerback Richard Crawford, who was a 2012 seventh-round pick of the team. He played 10 games as a rookie, recording 18 tackles and an interception while also returning eight punts for an average of 19.5 yards per return. He missed all of last season with a knee injury and retains practice squad eligibility thanks to this year’s change in the rules.

Washington also waived safety Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, guard/center Tevita Stevens, tight end Ted Bolser, punter Robert Malone, center Kevin Kowalski, wide receiver Lee Doss and defensive tackle Robert Thomas.

The Redskins roster now stands at 67 players, leaving 14 more moves to make before Saturday’s deadline.

 

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Josh Gordon hasn’t ruled out litigation, yet

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A lawyer who apparently isn’t too busy to check out PFT (and we appreciate that) has floated an intriguing theory about the out-of-the-blue decision by Browns receiver Josh Gordon to seek permission to play in the land of Labatt Blue.

Did Gordon ask to play in Canada knowing that the request would be denied, so that he in turn could bolster an effort to seek an injunction preventing the implementation of his suspension via a lawsuit challenging the suspension?

Those facts would help show what the law calls “irreparable harm,” one of the key factors that must exist for a court tell a party who wants to do something to not do it until the case has ended.  Gordon currently is caught in a vise, unable to play for the Browns and also not permitted while suspended to play for anyone else.  While that may not win the day, it’s one of those real-world facts that could cause a judge to conclude that Josh has gotten jobbed.

Of course, none of that is relevant unless and until Gordon sues.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon’s legal team is still exploring the possibility of filing suit.

Time is running out.  Practice in advance of the Week One game at Pittsburgh begins on Wednesday.  Courts will likely be shut down until Tuesday, given the holiday weekend.  If Gordon wants to get an order allowing him to practice and play, he needs to move a lot more quickly than, say, the NFL did in resolving his appeal.

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Tyrann Mathieu will tackle in practice this week

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The Cardinals activated safety Tyrann Mathieu from the PUP list on August 19, leaving the date of his regular season debut as the biggest question left to answer in Mathieu’s return from a torn ACL.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he wanted to see Mathieu play in the preseason finale if he was going to face the Chargers on the first Monday night of the season. Mathieu didn’t play in that game, but Arians left the door open for Mathieu to play because the second-year man will take part in tackling drills during Arizona’s padded practice next week.

“I wasn’t kidding,” Arians said regarding his earlier comments about Mathieu playing in Week One. “We’ll see how he tackles, though.”

Mathieu is hopeful that Arians, General Manager Steve Keim and the medical staff will feel that he’s ready to hit the field, but Darren Urban of the team’s website marks himself down as “doubtful” that we’ll be seeing Mathieu against Philip Rivers and company. Even if he misses that game, it shouldn’t be too long before Mathieu is back in the Cardinals secondary.

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Greg Jones released by Saints

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The Saints brought veteran fullback Greg Jones aboard early in camp after Erik Lorig went down with a leg injury, but he won’t be helping to open holes or protect Drew Brees this season.

Nick Underhill of the Baton Rouge Advocate reports that Jones has been released as the team starts the process of paring the roster down to 53 players.

With Lorig’s status for the regular season still up in the air as he continues to battle his injury, the Saints opted to go with Austin Johnson over Jones at fullback. It’s a somewhat surprising development because Johnson entered the NFL as a linebacker in 2012.

Johnson had played fullback during his first two years at the University of Tennessee, but tried and failed to make the Ravens on defense. The Saints signed him last year, moved him back to offense and he spent the year on the practice squad.

Jones has played 10 seasons in the NFL, nine with the Jaguars and the 2013 campaign with the Texans, so his experience may be appealing to teams looking for a different fullback.

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Rams cut 17 players, but none of them were Michael Sam

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Michael Sam became the reality show of the NFL Draft weekend, as the nation waited to see if someone would draft an openly gay player.

It appears draft weekend could turn out the same way.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the Rams have cut 17 players today, but none of them were Sam.

Among the cuts were defensive linemen Kourtnei Brown and Deantre Harlan, along with sixth-round quarterback Garrett Gilbert and seventh-round tackle Mitchell Van Dyk.

That would move them to 58, with five cuts to go to the limit.

And the world will be watching to see if Sam makes history.

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Aldon Smith’s case rockets through the NFL legal system

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For Browns receiver Josh Gordon, the wheels of NFL justice moved sssslowly.  He became aware of the one-year suspension in early May, at the latest.  His appeal hearing ended on August 4.  He learned his fate on August 27.

For 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, things moved much more quickly.  He was sentenced on multiple weapons charges and DUI on July 18.  He met with the Commissioner in early August.  Now, barely three weeks later, the process has been fully and finally resolved, with Smith suspended under both the personal-conduct policy and the substance-abuse policy.

While some have reported that Aldon Smith exhausted his appeal rights, the more likely explanation is that he waived them as part of the punishment under both policies.  For Smith, no mention was made of appeal rights in the NFL’s announcement; for Ravens running back Ray Rice, the suspension was imposed under the personal-conduct policy, and the announcement expressly declared that he has the right to appeal it.

Also, for any discipline under the substance-abuse policy, the player is entitled to an appeal hearing like the one Gordon had, followed by a potentially protracted wait for a ruling.  In the interim, the player is entitled to play.

Given the speed with which this one moved, and given the potentially complicated interplay between the two policies, it’s reasonable to deduce that Smith waived his appeal rights — possibly in exchange for the league’s decision to allow him to continue to come to the facility while suspended, a courtesy that is available to players suspended for less than a year under the substance-abuse policy but not to players suspended under the personal-conduct policy.

Who knows?  The consideration extended to Smith in exchange for apparently waiving his appeal rights could extend to a potential reduction of the suspension, if he manages to stay out of trouble.  Based on his history, that could be a fairly large if.

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Steelers claim a corner the Cowboys didn’t want — really

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Friday afternoon is the time to drop shocking news in the NFL, in hopes that no one notices.

Thus, someone claimed a defensive player the Cowboys didn’t want off waivers.

The Steelers announced they claimed cornerback B.W. Webb off waivers, and placed linebacker Jordan Zumwalt on injured reserve.

The 2013 fourth-round pick was best known for having a helmet swung at him during a joint practice with the Raiders.

To be honest, that’s probably a bad sign for a recent fourth-round pick for a team that stinks on defense.

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Falcons drop to 63 players

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Earlier on Friday, a few of the moves the Falcons made to get down to 53 players were announced via sources other than the team.

The team has confirmed those cuts — linebacker Pat Angerer, running back Josh Vaughn, tackle Pat McQuistan, linebacker Yawin Smallwood and fullback Maurice Hagens — and announced seven more. The moves leave the Falcons with 63 players and 10 more moves to make before Saturday’s deadline.

Some of the names among the seven other players cut may be familiar to avid Falcons or Hard Knocks fans, but all of them were long shots to wind up on the final roster. They are defensive end Nosa Eguae, cornerback Jordan Mabin, wide receiver Freddie Martino (pictured), safety Kimario McFadden, tight end Jacob Pedersen, offensive lineman Adam Replogle and defensive tackle Donte Rumph.

Mabin and Replogle were members of the Falcons practice squad last season while the other players were signed as undrafted free agents after being passed over in May.

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Jaguars cut Mike Brewster on way to 57 players

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The Jaguars signaled their desire to find a new center early in the offseason when they tried to sign Alex Mack away from the Browns and their failure to land their target hasn’t stopped them from moving on from the No. 1 man on the depth chart when camp opened.

Mike Brewster was cut on Friday as the Jaguars started making their way to the 53-man limit ahead of Saturday’s deadline. All told, the Jags made 18 moves on Friday to leave themselves with 57 players.

The Jags haven’t made a formal announcement about who will be starting at center for them this season, but Jacques McClendon got the nod in the team’s third preseason game with Luke Bowanko starting on Thursday night in the preseason finale. Brewster played 26 games and made 10 starts for the Jaguars last season.

In addition to the previously reported dismissal of quarterback Stephen Morris, the Jaguars also waived quarterback Ricky Stanzi, fullback Eric Kettani, guard Drew Nowak, defensive end Gerald Rivers, wide receiver Chad Bumphis, tackle Cody Booth, defensive lineman DeAndre Coleman, defensive tackle Ricky Havili-Heimuli, safety Craig Loston, kicker/punter Kasey Redfern, guard Tyler Shatley, tight end D.J. Tialavea and linebacker Marcus Whitfield. Tight end Brandon Barden was waived-injured with a groin injury.

Jacksonville wound up the day’s moves by placing wide receiver Tandon Doss and cornerback Rashaad Reynolds on injured reserve after they were hurt in the preseason finale against the Falcons.

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